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Engaging Content for Them, Analytics Galore for You - 12/10/2013 -

A recent AM&P roundtable discussion focused on how digital publishing tools can kick your analytics up to the next level.

By Amy Goldenberg

Everyone feels pressure to do more with less. But hereís the trick: How do we create engaging content for our readers that meets their needs with only the resources that we have?

With the internet, there are so many ways to get your news and messages to members and other interested readers, from social media to magazine apps to websites. But you need the staff (and their available time) to take advantage of these tools. I went to the recent Association Media & Publishing Annual Roundtable Roundup looking for ideas that I could bring back to my office, where 1.67 of us work on our association news website and print paper.

One of the roundtables focused on digital publishing. Debbie Bates-Schrott, president of Bates Creative, introduced us to the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite. DPS is a specific tool that she and her team have used to great success, so her examples focused around its use. The questions and issues that came up in the discussion, however, are important no matter what programs you end up using.

The important thing to know is that there is a way to create content once and push it out to different devices. And itís also important to note that research shows people use various devices in different ways. For instance, people spend more time reading and shopping on tablets.

Bates-Schrott explained how to look at digital publishing as a full communication tool. We need to continue to think about different ways to push content out and make it interactive on a variety of devices, all geared toward our members. At the same time, digital publishing gives us a host of analytic tools that can provide mounds of data on a continuing basis. That means we can learn whatís working and whatís not on our own instead of constantly surveying our readers.

Actually, my roundtable group had a good sense of where their members are thanks to surveys. One personís association found its members have a deep adoption of smartphones but arenít reading on them much. Another found that its members want more content online, but the challenge is how to make it seamless for members as well as logical and feasible from the standpoint of staffing. Another is starting a redesign and looking at responsive website design to address some of the usability questions.

As none of us had been using DPS or a similar system, Bates-Schrott shared a handout on tips for planning a successful DPS app. Even though the focus was on an app and the use of DPS, four of the 10 tips are particularly good for re-imagining digital publishing:

  • Be strategic from the very beginning.
  • Define your goals. You canít do it all, so make sure you know the purpose so you can move on to the next one.
  • Establish content strategy. Be sure to consider ways to include additional content that will shine in the digital environment, such as videos and 3-D images.
  • Learn from analytics. The system is recording so many data points. Get familiar with them and review them on a regular basis. This lets you make adjustments and develop additional features from month to month.

The other six tips are also important, but more focused on app development: plan for screens, create engagement, create navigation with visual cues, consider monetization, develop a marketing plan, and feed the beast.

Always feed the beast.

Amy Goldenberg, PhD is managing editor at the American Anthropological Association. Association Media & Publishing sincerely thanks her for covering this event for our members who were unable to attend. For more information on upcoming Association Media & Publishing educational events, visit www.associationmediaandpublishing.org.


 

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